JUDGES have ruled fracking in North Yorkshire may go ahead - after concluding councillors did properly consider the impact of climate change when approving plans.

The legal challenge against North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow Third Energy to extract shale gas had been brought by campaigners Frack Free Ryedale and environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE).

The High Court challenge centred largely over whether the council had properly assessed the impact on the climate of burning shale gas obtained by fracking. The group’s legal representation also argued North Yorkshire County Council was wrong in not requiring Third Energy to provide a financial bond for any long term environmental pollution arising from fracking.

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But it has been unsuccessful in overturning the decision.

Campaigners say they are disappointed, but have vowed to continue to fight their cause.

Claimant in the case, Reverend Jackie Cray, who lives near the Kirby Misperton site said: “I'm obviously disappointed in the verdict but it doesn't end here. There is no support in North Yorkshire for this risky industry.

“We will continue to campaign on behalf of local communities for the sake of our children and their children's health and well-being, and the long term prosperity of our area. We are not prepared for Ryedale to become a sacrifice zone for the sake of industry greed.”

Donna Hume, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “The high court has ruled that fracking can go ahead in beautiful Yorkshire, and we must rise to this latest challenge.

“The judge found that North Yorkshire councillors had assessed the impacts of climate change. But we know that climate change was barely mentioned at that crucial council meeting where the decision to allow fracking was taken, and more damningly, that councillors didn't have the information about the total carbon emissions produced from the fracking project.

“Residents have said they will continue to do everything they can to peacefully prevent Barclays-owned Third Energy from fracking, and we will be standing with them.”

Frack Free Ryedale said one consolation was the judgement clarified that the council’s planning committee was responsible for deciding whether “energy requirements ought to be met by other, less environmentally damaging means than gas production and a gas-fuelled electricity generating station”.

Moreover, Mrs Justice Lang reassured the local community that the terms of the planning conditions imposed by the council should “afford a considerable degree of protection to residents” and “extend beyond mere restoration to a programme of aftercare, in accordance with Planning Practice Guidance [PPG]” [paragraph 64].

David Davis, one of the residents behind the legal action said: "We respect Mrs Justice Lang’s decision whose duty was to carefully interpret the law as it stands today. Our greatest disappointment is with the government, our own MP, and an industry who are conspiring to force fracking on unwilling communities with the threat of overruling any councils who refuse planning permission.

“Our own county council failed to respect residents wishes and those of the district council, five town councils and 14 parish councils in Ryedale who objected, and did not even have the courage to use the authority's own draft Minerals and Waste Plan as a basis to throw out this application.

"Third Energy will now press ahead with its plans at Kirby Misperton. Sadly, this decision will open the floodgates to other fracking companies such as INEOS who together have plans for more than 14000 wells in Ryedale alone. Large areas of Yorkshire, the North and the Midlands are covered by Petroleum Exploration and Development licences for fracking which if exploited will lead to the widespread industrialisation of our countryside.”

North Yorkshire County Council welcomed the court ruling and said it was now focusing on a new draft Minerals and Waste Joint Plan for York and North Yorkshire, which it said will put in place “robust measures to balance the interests of the fracking industry with those of residents, businesses and the environment”.

The plan will become the key reference for planning decisions on applications including shale gas extraction for the next 15 years.

People have until tomorrow (Wednesday, December 21) to give their views on the draft, which can be found at; www.northyorks.gov.uk/mwconsult.

Third Energy also welcomed the ruling and said they were confident they would prove to the local community the council was right to grant permission.

Chief executive Rasik Valand said: “The permission places a great obligation on Third Energy to prove that we can carry out the test fracs in the same safe, discreet and environmentally sensitive way that we have conducted our gas exploration and energy generation activities over the past two decades.

“We are confident that we will prove to the local community that their elected representatives were right to grant this permission. We look forward to the results of the test fracs which will help establish whether gas can be produced from deeper and tighter rock formations at the Kirby Misperton site.”

A spokesperson for Third Energy said: “Third Energy is pleased that the court has found that North Yorkshire County Council acted properly in granting planning permission for test fracs at the existing KM8 well in Ryedale. The council set 40 conditions to the grant of planning permission which the company is well on its way to satisfying.

"It is worth remembering that we are nearly two years into a planning application process for a proposed operation that would take less than three months to complete.”